Practice self-care but don't be selfish. Learn to love yourself but don't be self-centered. Recovery is selfish but get out of yourself and help others. Ugh! We listen to these words and sometimes they can feel overwhelming, confusing and anger invoking. They are contradictions and they don't make sense!
If comparing logic to logic, we would be correct. None of the above would make sense. Logic is based on reason and fact. Spirituality, however, is antithetical to logic and is based on faith and a way of living. When we let this sink into our spirits we see that the above statements are not contradictory. They are actually paradoxical.
Now you might be saying...you're just playing semantics. It's the same difference.
Let's start with basic self-care. When non-addicts practice such behaviors as proper sleep, healthy eating, exercise, taking showers and brushing their teeth, they aren't labeled as selfish. They are taking care of themselves and acting out of self respect. And so are we. Many of us didn't fare so well in this area when we were in active addiction. As we move along in recovery, we become pretty proficient in self-care and consequently, we feel and look better.
Self care is part of self love but it goes a bit deeper. Learning to love ourselves can be quite challenging. Especially when we want to genuinely love ourselves and not practice narcissism. We treat and feel toward ourselves the same way as we do toward our fellow addicts in recovery. We practice patience and respect and tolerance and probably most important...forgiveness. This is frequently a two steps forward, one back experience but we do eventually learn to love ourselves and this provides us with a tremendous amount of freedom.
Recovery being selfish can be a bit tricky. If the recovery path that you choose to follow involves being away at meetings or service commitments or functions, you may get flack from loved ones. They might claim they see you even less than when you were an active addict. We need to remember that they are healing too and will require our patience and respect. As one friend so eloquently stated to his mother when asked how long he had to keep going to meetings, he replied "How long do you want your jewelry to stay out of the pawn shop?"
You may see the common thread in these three examples. We cannot love anyone else or be of service or helpful to anyone if we don't love ourselves. We hear that frequently and it is painfully true. This is a shadow statement offering explanation as to why so many of us had so many unhealthy relationships when we were active addicts. As we grow and love ourselves in recovery, our relationships become healthier and based on love. And next to sobriety and serenity, loving relationships are quite an awesome gift of recovery.
This is a process requiring daily actions. We do our best today.